Tuesday, September 10, 2013

James Macleod of the NWMP

Image of James F. Macleod of the NWMP from Glenbow Museum Archives, Calgary

James Farquaharson Macleod was born on the Isle of Skye in 1836. In 1845, his family immigrated to Upper Canada. When he grew up, Macleod studied at Queen's College in Kingston, was called to the bar, and opened a law practice in Ontario

He was also a member of the Canadian militia. He got involved in putting down the first Red River Rebellion in 1870, and received a promotion to brigade major.

In 1873, when the federal government of the new nation of Canada decided to establish a police force to keep law and order in the West, James Macleod was made Assistant to Commissioner George French, and helped him lead the great march to southern Alberta from Manitoba.

The journey of 1600 km on horseback was arduous, and the first troop of North West Mounted Police travelled to Alberta indirectly, by way of Fort Benton, Montana, and the Sweetgrass Hills.

On the wise advice of Macleod, his second in command, Commissioner French hired Jerry Potts as a guide to lead the group to the Oldman River, where they were to establish their post and stamp out the illegal American whiskey trade that was going on at Fort Whoop Up (modern day Lethbridge). Fort Macleod was named after this respected leader, and later became a town of the same name.

Later, Macleod sent other patrols to the Cypress Hills, where they established Fort Walsh, and to the  Bow River where the modern city of Calgary still bears the name of the original fort.

Macleod served as Police Commissioner until 1880, and later became a judge in the North West Territories, which included Alberta at the time.

He was credited for establishing and maintaining good relations with the Blackfoot people, with the able assistance of linguistic and cultural interpreter, Jerry Potts.

No comments:

Post a Comment